'Exciting' to see UWindsor launch anti-Black racism course, professor says

The University of Windsor has launched a new course on race and anti-Black racism that is set to begin this February. 

New course is open to students and community members

The Fundamentals of Race and Anti-Black Racism is offered through Continuing Education. Classes will start in February. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

For the first time, the University of Windsor is offering a course open to the public that explores race and anti-Black racism.

In a news release Tuesday, the university said the course, The Fundamentals of Race and Anti-Black Racism, will teach students about race issues, anti-Black racism and the "construct of whiteness."

The 18-hour course is not part of a degree program. Students and community members can enrol through the university's Continuing Education office and those that complete it will receive a certificate. 

It's one of several initiatives the university is undertaking to tackle racism on campus and educate students about anti-Black racism. 

Its announcement comes after a number of recommendations were released in December 2021 from the school's Anti-Black Racism Task Force, a few of which asked for Black studies, education and training. 

"I think after the uprisings of 2020, there was a reckoning with race in North America and in Canada specifically," said Kaitlyn Ellsworth, who will be teaching the new course. 

"I hope for the participants [of this course] to take away a foundational understanding of the construct of race and racism ... and then build on that foundation to be able to recognize when they are experiencing or are the perpetrator of micro-aggressions." 

She added that it will be a discussion-based, virtual class that will encourage people to share their own experiences, identify systemic oppressions and dig into the history of racism. 

Kaitlyn Ellsworth will be teaching the new course this winter semester. She says she hopes students can learn to identify racism and when they are being perpetrators of it, as well as explore systemic oppression and understand the history of racism. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Ellsworth is a Black student support coordinator at the university and has been an advocate for Black curriculum to be implemented at the school. She said bringing this education to the school is "exciting." 

"It's building off my own education and my advocacy work in the education realm, it's been kind of a surreal experience to see that type of advocacy in this realm come to fruition," she said. 

'Should have been available a while ago:' Diversity expert

Mohamed Elmi, the director of research at Ryerson University's Diversity Institute, told CBC News that it's important for the school to offer courses like this, though he would have liked to see it come sooner. 

"I think it should have been available a while ago, we've known these issues for a very long time. The issues of racism and anti-racism didn't start in 2020 with the murder of George Floyd, but it's never too late to do the right thing," Elmi said. 

He added that he'd like to see this course grow and this type of race and anti-Black racism education be available to all students, across different programs. 

"Racism, anti-Black racism, Indigenization of courses needs to be embedded in the entire curriculum, entire program of study for students and not just an elective or an optional course that students may want to take," he said. 

Mohamed Elmi is the director of research at Ryerson University's Diversity Institute. Elmi says these types of courses are important and set a foundation, one that he hopes the university will continue to build off of. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

"Courses like this are often ways in which to gather resources, learnings and for students to be able to then take that information into their careers and once they join the workforce."

The course is being delivered through the university's Office of the Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Continuing Education office and with support of the Black Council of Windsor-Essex — a group of African, Black and Caribbean leaders and organizations in Windsor-Essex. 

Classes begin in February and run until the end of March. At this time, the course is only scheduled to run for this semester. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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